Front pain? Back painlessness?

Roy Halladay finally got a chance to start last night, making his first appearance for the Phils since August 21. It went well. Halladay threw seven shutout innings and hit a three-run double of his own as the Phils won 9-0.

Howard homered twice for the Phillies in the game. Ibanez returned to the lineup and went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer. Pence added a home run of his own and is slugging .550 in 115 plate appearances with the Phils.

In the first two games of the set, the starting pitchers for the Phils have combined to allow a run on four hits and two walks over 13 innings while striking out 16.

The Phillies are 85-46 on the year after beating the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 last night. Thirty-nine games above .500 ties their best mark for the year. I believe that the last time the Phils were 40 games above .500 was October 2, 1977 (the last day of the 1977 season). The Phillies are in first place in the NL East, 7 1/2 games ahead of the Braves.

Halladay got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing a double, a single and two walks over seven shutout innings. He struck out nine.

Brandon Phillips singled to right to start the bottom of the first. Halladay got Edgar Renteria on a fly ball to center for the first out before walking Joey Votto on five pitches. It put men on first and second for Jay Bruce and Halladay struck him out swinging 3-2 for the second out. Miguel Cairo grounded back to the mound to leave both runners stranded.

Halladay struck out Fred Lewis and Ryan Hanigan in a 1-2-3 second after getting Drew Stubbs to fly to center for the first out.

He struck pitcher Bronson Arroyo out looking to start the third. Phillips and Renteria both grounded out behind Arroyo.

Halladay had a 2-0 lead when he threw a 1-2-3 fourth.

He set the Reds down in order again in the fifth.

Up 6-0, he got Alonso and Phillips on ground balls before striking Renteria out looking in the sixth.

He started the seventh with an 8-0 lead. Votto led off and doubled to right. Bruce was next and Halladay hit him with a 1-2 pitch, putting men on first and second. Cairo struck out swinging before Stubbs walked on a 3-2 pitch that sure looked like a strike to me to load the bases. Righty Todd Frazier hit for the pitcher Logan Ondrusek and Halladay struck him out looking for the second out. Hanigan grounded to third to leave the bases loaded.

Lidge started the eighth and walked Alonso on a 3-2 pitch. Phillips grounded to short with Alonso forced at second for the first out. Renteria lined to Wilson at short for the second, but Votto followed that with a single to right that moved Phillips to third. Lidge struck Bruce out swinging 2-2 to leave runners at the corners.

Again with the walks for Lidge. He has now walked nine in ten innings for the Phils this year.

Schwimer started the ninth with a 9-0 lead. Dave Sappelt led off with a single to left. Righty Paul Janish hit for the pitcher Sam LeCure. Schwimer got Janish on a fly ball to right for the first out. Sappelt took second without a throw before Frazier struck out swinging. Hanigan flew to left to end the game with Sappelt on second.

Third career appearance for Schwimer and the first in which he hasn’t been charged with a run.

Lidge threw 15 pitches in the game and Schwimer 14. Neither was pitching more than one day in a row.

The Phillie lineup against righty Bronson Arroyo went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Pence (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Ibanez returns to the lineup in left. Valdez plays short with Rollins on the DL.

Utley singled with two outs in the first, but Howard flew to left behind him.

The Phils went in order in the second and again in the third.

Utley walked with two outs in the fourth. Howard was next and he hit an 0-1 pitch out to right, putting the Phils up 2-0. Pence grounded to short before Ibanez singled to left. Ruiz walked behind Ibanez, putting men on first and second for Valdez. Valdez grounded to third to set the Phillies down.

Lefties came into the game hitting 324/376/590 against Arroyo for the season. The lefties on the Phils fared pretty well against him in the third, with Utley getting on board for Howard’s homer and Ibanez singling later in the frame.

Victorino doubled to left with one out in the fifth. Polanco was next and flew to center with Victorino tagging and moving up to third with two down. Utley popped to Cairo in foul territory for the third out.

Howard struck out looking to start the sixth. Pence was next and he hit a 1-2 pitch out to right-center, putting the Phils on top 3-0. Ibanez and Ruiz followed that with back-to-back singles, putting men on first and second with one out. Valdez reached on an error by Cairo and the bases were loaded. Halladay lined the first pitch of his at-bat into right and the ball rolled into the corner, clearing the bases and putting the Phils up 6-0. Victorino fouled out to Votto and Polanco grounded to third to leave Halladay stranded at second.

Halladay now has nine career RBI, three of which came on that swing.

Pence singled to left with two outs in the seventh. Ibanez got ahead 3-0 and hit a 3-1 pitch out to right, extending the lead to 8-0. Ruiz flew to right for the third out.

Victorino walked with two outs in the eighth, but Polanco flew to center behind him.

Utley grounded to first to start the ninth. Howard was next, facing righty Sam LeCure, and hit a 3-2 pitch out to right for his second homer of the game, putting the Phils up 9-0. Pence and Ibanez both grounded out behind him.

Victorino was 1-for-4 with a double and a walk in the game. He’s just 3-for-his-last-18, but hitting 326/392/620 in August.

Polanco 0-for-5 and left three men on base. 1-for-his-last-13. 227/283/264 in 298 plate appearances since the end of April.

Utley 1-for-4 with a walk. 244/303/354 over his last 89 plate appearances.

Howard 2-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI. 3-for-his-last-16 with three home runs and seven strikeouts.

Pence 2-for-5 with a home run. 330/400/550 in 115 plate appearances with the Phillies.

Ibanez 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in his return to the lineup.

Ruiz 1-for-3 with a walk. He’s 2-for-his-last-10.

Valdez 0-for-4 with a strikeout and four men left on base. 280/327/500 in 55 plate appearances in August.

Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.71) faces lefty Dontrelle Willis (0-3, 4.10) tonight. Willis had made nine starts for the Reds this year and has given up more than three runs in just one of them. He’s been very tough on lefties (184/238/289), but righties have hit 298/377/404 against him for the year. He threw 123 pitches in his most recent start (August 26 against the Nats). Lee has allowed two runs in 31 innings over his last starts, striking out 32 while opponents have hit .163 against him.

This says the Phillies have traded for John Bowker, sending Schwimer back to Triple-A. The left-handed hitting Bowker turned 28 in July and has a career 237/289/390 line. He went 4-for-17 with the Pirates this season. He has hardly ever faced lefties, hitting just .132 against them in 57 career plate appearances. He has a 248/303/415 line against right-handed pitching.